DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the government made a mistake when it purchased a used F-16 fighter jets on the grounds that these would not be of much help in securing the nation against aggressors like China.
“The decision to buy F-16s is really a blunder. How would it help?” he said.
He said the F-16s were multirole jet fighters manufactured in 1976 and were no match for China’s air power.
Duterte said the government ought to have purchased gunboats rather because these “are quick and versatile and can be sent all over the place.”
“Gunboats have a firepower capability as well,” he included.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has said it has acquired an F-16Vs as part of its modernization plans.
Philippine Air Force pilots who trained on the Korean-made FA-50s will be able to fly the F-16s, described as the latest in its class, beginning next year.
Indeed, even with the push to modernize the military, Duterte said the Philippines can’t go to war with China over disputed territories in the South China Sea.
“We cannot go to war, we cannot fight China,” he said.
He said there was a better chance of resolving the escalating conflict through diplomacy.
He reiterated his earlier statement that the United States could not be relied upon to defend the Philippines if an armed confrontation developed with China.
“America will not die for us,” Duterte said, pointing out the US did not lift a finger when China was building structures recently on the disputed islands.
“Now they’re there. [The US] allowed them to be finished,” he said. -Jason E.